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Keeping Clamagore High and Dry

October 28, 2009

USS Clamagore (SS-343)

Water is a killer, one of the most destructive forces of nature. The last apartment building I lived in sprang a leak, and–don’t get me started! We continue to post on the travails of Charleston SC’s Patriots Point Naval Museum and attempts to salvage the veteran ships there from nature’s ravages, today focusing on the retired GUPPY submarine Clamagore. First some fascinating history via the Post and Courier:

The Clamagore’s story might be one that’s been under-told in history. Commissioned in March 1945, much of her work was done under the cloak of the 1950s and ’60s Cold War, when American and Soviet subs globally played games of Blind Man’s Bluff beneath the sea.

Some of her crew let on that the Clamagore’s hush-hush missions included trips to the shallows off Cuba during the missile crisis, where they spied on heavily used communist roads.

There also were cold-water runs to the frigid north shores of Russia, and war games where the Clamagore acted as a prowling enemy submarine.

Several of the men also said they’ve signed government documents in which they swore to secrecy on specific details of their work. But all have stories of life in the submarine’s cramped quarters, where the stink of diesel fuel stuck to everything and every member of the 80-man crew.

Now concerning her current troubles:

The Clamagore’s status is far from secure. A recent report by the Navy said conditions don’t appear good.

“The outer hull has holes and sections where hull plate has been eaten away by corrosion,” it read. “Below the waterline the hull is covered by thick marine growth and therefore cannot fully be assessed as to its condition. However, the severe pitting at the waterline is a good indicator that the plate beneath the waterline is in poor condition as well.”

Dick Trammel, executive director at the Patriots Point Development Authority, said officials are looking at solutions to protect the sub, ranging from raising it and moving it to land to putting it dry dock for repairs.

An interesting plan, and I think one mentioned here earlier by Lee Wahler and others. Otherwise, keeping it in the unmerciful sea, you have the same problem further down the road, likely at greater expense.


Last week, we also posted concerning the USN’s letter to the Museum, directing them to fix the Essex class carrier or scrap her. Below are some updated links on this subject:

Dire straits at Patriots Point-Charleston Post & Courier

S.C. Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell is dismayed over the recurrent financial problems of Patriots Point and the emergency calls for ship repairs. “The state doesn’t have $100 million,” he tersely observed.

Sen. McConnell will ask the Legislature to approve a reorganization of the governing board for the Patriots Point Development Authority to provide for broader representation and oversight. And he will ask for a review of the authority by the Legislative Audit Council to suggest solutions to its fiscal woes. Both are good ideas…

As Sen. McConnell says, the naval museum serves as “a monument to the generation that saved civilization.”


Carrier Going Down In A Sea Of Red Ink-Strategypage

So what’s to be done? A popular option these days is to use old ships for target practice. For example, of 31 recently decommissioned Spruance class destroyers, 22 were used for target practice. Some old warships are sunk closer to the shore, to provide reefs for fish and scuba divers.

But the museum would rather not lose the Yorktown, to the breakers, scuba divers or friendly fire. But unless the money can be found, the Yorktown will go down.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike Burleson permalink*
    July 25, 2010 4:06 am

    Thanks Lawrence, especially for your service, and I agree!

  2. Lawrence H permalink
    July 25, 2010 1:10 am

    Having served in the Submarine fleet, this makes me sick to think that the Clamagore might end up in the hands of the breakers, or “donated” to the navy for use in a SINKEX. I do understand the issues with drydocking-one of the boats i served on cost 43.2 million dollars to drydock. Simply draging it out of the water will indeed slow the corrosion issues for a few years. it wont be pretty to look at, with all the steel eaten up by the seawater, but at least it won’t sink at the pier. If i had enough money, i would buy it!!! Someone needs to give up a 250,000 a year paycheck and make this happen: FIX THE CLAMAGORE NOW!!!!

  3. west_rhino permalink
    October 30, 2009 11:18 am

    Recalling the fate of the Florence Air and Missile Museum (was on the short list to house the last H8K Emily if it wasn’t salved), I find it ironic that McConnell can find pork for the Hunley which could have been ensconced at Patriot’s Point.

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